Secret Agent [1936]

Much like the U.S. series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., this cool, clever cold war spy show is built on elaborate espionage shell games and diplomatic chicanery, and Patrick McGoohan's John Drake is the ingenious con man behind the bluffs and feints. The eight episodes on set 3 feature the usual array of plots pulled off with tongue-in-cheek charm--the nationalistic fervor of "Have a Glass of Wine" turns espionage into a veritable sporting event between spies, and in "You're Not in Any Trouble, Are You?" Drake gets to the bottom of a murder for hire ring by taking out a hit on himself. But the humor is interspersed with more ambivalent episodes. "That's Two of Us Sorry" offers up a casualty of the cold war mentality, and the assassins school of "Such Men Are Dangerous" rings with an undercurrent of fascism. For sheer invention, "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" delivers a mind game worthy of The Prisoner's Number 2. The set also features "A Man to Be Trusted," "The Affair at Castelevara," and "Don't Nail Him Yet." The episodes feature the complete British cuts, with the Danger Man title and bouncy spinet theme song, but if you miss the Johnny Rivers theme song from the American version of the show, just click to the supplements and you can enjoy the U.S. credits as well as a still gallery and a biography and filmography of star Patrick McGoohan. --Sean Axmaker

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